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For Immediate Release: May 5, 2005
Contact: Mary Stadick Smith - (605) 773-7228

South Dakota ranks first in access to technology in schools

A new report by Education Week ranks South Dakota first among the states for access to technology in schools.

“South Dakota is a leader in providing technology to our schools,” said Gov. Mike Rounds. “As a large, rural state, we need to find innovative ways to deliver education, and technology is one efficient way to do it.”

Over the last six years, the state has spent $66.4 million on technology in the schools. That amount includes one-time costs such as wiring the schools and purchasing initial equipment, as well as ongoing costs such as support of the Digital Dakota Network.

According to the Education Week report, South Dakota has 1.7 students per instructional computer, the best record in the nation. The state also has 1.9 students per Internet-connected computer.

Regarding the use of technology, 88 percent of South Dakota schools have at least half of their teachers who use the Internet for instruction. That compares to a national average of 77 percent. Sixty-seven percent of the state’s schools offer distance-learning programs for students, compared to a national average of 25 percent.

“The Internet has changed the way we need to educate our students,” said Dr. Rick Melmer, secretary of the South Dakota Department of Education. “A 7-year-old textbook doesn’t cut it anymore, when you’ve got information from around the globe at your fingertips via the Internet. South Dakota will continue to make technology a priority as we consider the needs of our schools and students.”

Other highlights of the report:
  • South Dakota is one of 16 states currently offering computer-based assessments.
  • South Dakota is one of 10 states that have a mechanism in place to regularly replace or update technology in the schools.
  • An overwhelming majority of school districts (159 out of 168) are using the state’s student-information system, where parents, students and administrators can access specific student data such as test scores, grades and attendance.